UPDATE! (1/14/2016)


“Nearly a century ago, historian Sidney Perley identified the place in Salem, Mass., where 19 accused witches met their end in 1692; now, finally, confirmation. The Salem News reports that the seven scholars who compose the Gallows Hill Project have after a five-year effort definitively determined that Proctor’s Ledge was where the executions took place.

One of those scholars, Emerson Baker, writes in the Oxford University Pressblog that the hangings had “broadly” been considered to have taken place on Gallows Hill, which comprises many acres.

Perley had zeroed in on the Proctor’s Ledge location near the hill’s base, with the city in 1936 even dubbing a small part of the area there “Witch Memorial Land.” But Baker explains that land went unmarked, and the belief that the hill’s summit was the infamous spot returned.

Though there is a dearth of eyewitness accounts of the hangings, one big clue came via the witch trials court record dated Aug. 19 of that fateful year.

Accused witch Rebecca Eames traveled to the court via the Boston Road; when asked whether she’d passed an execution that morning, she answered that she saw some “folks” there while at the “house below the hill,” which the scholars ultimately identified as one of a few homes on Boston Street.

A ” view-shed analysis” revealed it was possible to plainly see the top of Proctor’s Ledge, but not the top of Gallows Hill, from this location.”

State University Professor Emerson Baker told the city of Salem. “Our analysis draws upon multiple lines of research to confirm the location of the executions.”

City reps confirm to WBZ that a team of researchers used sonartechnology combined with eyewitness testimonies from centuries-old documents dating back to the Salem Witch Trials.

The city of Salem acquired the strip of land near the base of Gallows Hill in 1936 “to be held forever as a public park” and called it “Witch Memorial Land.” As it was never marked, most people erroneously assumed the executions took place on the hill’s summit.

A group of researchers on the Salem witch trials called The Gallows Hill Project team, now identifies the site as a rocky ledge much closer to Boston Street, at the base of the hill, basing its conclusions on the early 20th century research of historian Sidney Perley, an eye-witness reference to an execution from the trial papers, maps from different periods, and newer technology not available previously.


Proctor’s Ledge in Salem (WBZ-TV)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s